With the CFM56 MRO market showing continued strength, Aero Norway has increased its production capability to accommodate 102 inductions for 2019, up from 80 last year. The additional capacity was made possible with the opening of three dedicated repair/hospital bays last November, and increasing the induction rate for heavy engine work to every three days.
The additional bays are dedicated to lighter workscopes, according to Neil Russell, chief operating officer of the Stavenger-based MRO, which carries out heavy engine inspections on a separate production line.
“We made a choice in 2018 to increase our production rate by investing in people, tooling and parts,” says Russell, who points out that Aero Norway will take delivery of a high speed grind (HSG) machine by year-end 2019. “The HSG will be used to grind the assembled high-pressure compressor and high-pressure turbine rotors, and will enable us to improve our delivery times by five days,” he explains.
As Russell notes, “the CFM56 is Aero Norway’s exclusive business,” which, he stresses enables the MRO to focus on training, tooling and facility layout.
The MRO began operations as Aero Norway in 2013. However, engine maintenance, says Russell, has been ongoing at the site since 1990, when it started overhauling the CFM56-3 for Braathens, its airline owner, which has since merged with SAS.
“Pratt & Whitney acquired the shop from Braathens in 2000, which had just taken on the CFM56-7B, and later the -5B,” Russell reports. “Pratt & Whitney then sold it in late 2013. Although we are an independent company, the site has a long history of CFM56 overhaul—under an airline and an OEM. In fact, some of our people have been here since its first day of operation.”
At the same time, says Russell, Aero Norway has “a very good relationship” with both GE and Safran, which produce the CFM56 under a joint venture. “Both companies are supportive of us as a customer buying their products and services,” he remarks. “We believe we sell a good product. Many operators know the good reputation of this site, which we believe helps promote CFMI as the OEM.”
Aero Norway’s primary market is Europe, although it also has customers from North America, Africa and the Asia/Pacific region, says Russell. While all work is done in Stavanger, mobile technician teams and partner MROs are available to support any off-site jobs.
The company is seeing ongoing shifts in the market for CFM56 maintenance. “We are still seeing some activity on the -3 engines. However over the next few years this will decline,” reports Russell. “There are still large percentages of -5Bs and -7Bs that have yet to make a first shop visit, so it’s inevitable that for the next 10 years or more there will still be a large repair market for those engines.”
He adds that last year, the CFM56-3, -5B and -7B each accounted for one-third of Aero Norway’s shop visits. For 2019, Russell estimates that the -5B and -7B will account for about 70%.